Distinct vascular genomic response of proton and gamma radiation-A pilot investigation

PLoS One. 2019 Feb 11;14(2):e0207503. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0207503. eCollection 2019.


The cardiovascular biology of proton radiotherapy is not well understood. We aimed to compare the genomic dose-response to proton and gamma radiation of the mouse aorta to assess whether their vascular effects may diverge. We performed comparative RNA sequencing of the aorta following (4 hrs) total-body proton and gamma irradiation (0.5-200 cGy whole body dose, 10 dose levels) of conscious mice. A trend analysis identified genes that showed a dose response. While fewer genes were dose-responsive to proton than gamma radiation (29 vs. 194 genes; q-value ≤ 0.1), the magnitude of the effect was greater. Highly responsive genes were enriched for radiation response pathways (DNA damage, apoptosis, cellular stress and inflammation; p-value ≤ 0.01). Gamma, but not proton radiation induced additionally genes in vasculature specific pathways. Genes responsive to both radiation types showed almost perfectly superimposable dose-response relationships. Despite the activation of canonical radiation response pathways by both radiation types, we detected marked differences in the genomic response of the murine aorta. Models of cardiovascular risk based on photon radiation may not accurately predict the risk associated with proton radiation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aorta / radiation effects*
  • Apoptosis / genetics
  • Apoptosis / radiation effects
  • DNA Damage / genetics
  • DNA Damage / radiation effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Gamma Rays
  • Genome / genetics*
  • Genome / radiation effects*
  • Genomics / methods
  • Inflammation / genetics
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Pilot Projects
  • Protons
  • Radiation, Ionizing


  • Protons